Weight has always been a (forgive the pun) big issue for the fairer sex. Perhaps even the biggest issue we have to contend with. One thing has always puzzled me though; why?
With so many studies, polls and anecdotal evidence that men prefer curves, 'something to grab onto', etc, why do we still torture ourselves with painful exercise regimes, starvation, fad diets, Spanx and emotional anguish? Is it for the opposite sex? Maybe. Is it our innately competitive nature? Probably. Is it an instinctual method of somehow bettering ourselves? Almost certainly.
It's taken me until the age of 29 to stop caring about my weight. And when I say 'stop caring', what I really mean is 'binge on cake and feel less guilty afterwards'. A few years ago I stopped reading fashion magazines; a hugely negative contributor to the neverending weight issue. Without all those gaunt frames looking at me, I instantly felt less pressure to become one of them. It felt like I could breathe again as the constant nagging at the back of my mind had had the volume turned down.
I think magazines have a lot to answer for. If they're not telling us to get the perfect bikini body by Summer, they're letting us know that curves are fashionable again and it's ok to eat that pie and gravy after all. The most important thing we need to remember though, is that no one shape is better than another. Kiera Knightley might have an amazing washboard stomach and cracking cheekbones but she also has tiny boobs. Mia Tyler might have a big middle but she's also got great knockers and an arse that some men would walk across deserts to give a sly pinch. It's all subjective and each person will prefer something different. Don't strive for something that's out of your grasp, don't torture yourself because someone else has told you to be a different shape.
I've also noticed a disturbing trend lately. As some kind of backlash to the ever present 'lose weight, be size zero' indoctrination, there have been a number of pictures floating around suggesting that the Marilyn Monroe figure is preferable. I cannot stress this enough but, curves aren't better than being skinny if that's what comes naturally to you. Promoting the other side of the coin is just as irresponsible. I have a friend that is a size 6 to 8 despite having had 3 children. I have other friends that can't shift the extra pounds on their hips despite eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. We all have a natural shape and attempting to alter your body for fashion is bad news. How boring would it be if everyone had a Barbie waist, pneumatic tits, orange perma-tan and a perfectly symmetrical face? Variety is where it's at, I like to look at people that are different, unique.
Weight is very much a game of two halves though. It's one thing to say 'embrace your natural shape, being big is ok' but where do we draw the line? Big is certainly beautiful but if it begins to affect your health then surely it's just as harmful to your lifespan as someone who might be anorexic. It also brings up a number of other concerns like heart disease and diabetes. The NHS is already under strain due to the increasing obesity epidemic, what happened to the middle ground? It's a tough call and absolutely not mine to make but as a gender, we need to take responsiblity for the pressure we're putting our peers under and employ some common sense too. (And I'm not suggesting for a second that weight issues don't affect men equally, I just don't have the reproductive equipment necessary to comment on that side of the debate.)
Maybe it's that I'm in a committed relationship, maybe it's that I'm about to say 'sayonara' to my 20's or maybe it's that I stopped exposing myself to the many elements of modern life that add to the already existing burden that we all suffer from to some degree, but I'm that happiest (and also the biggest) I've ever been with regard to my shape. I'm finally able to say that I don't mind my figure, which, for such a simple statement, feels like a massive achievement. I am simply meant to be a size 12-14 and it's futile trying to fight it. Yes, I'd love it if my boobs were bigger and my waist was a little smaller. Yes, I have days where I want to smash every mirror within a six mile radius and burn TopShop to the ground because they don't have anything I like above a size 10. And yes, I panic occasionally because I've eaten 4000 calories in a single sitting, but in the grand scheme of things it's a pretty insignificant thing to worry about.
We're all different, in every concievable way, so utilize those differences and turn them into something positive. No matter what your size, it's possible to dress to flatter your assets and disguise the things you're paranoid about. As long as you're healthy, be whatever size you were meant to be and just go with it.